DEBKAfile reports exclusively that the Russian president and Israeli prime minister were at angry cross-purposes in their phone conversation on Wednesday, April 11. Vladimir Putin warned Binyamin Netanyahu to discontinue Israeli strikes in Syria because they may rock the Assad regime [backed by Moscow] and insisted on Israel respecting Syrian sovereignty and security. By this warning, Russia clamped down on the freedom the Israeli air force had hitherto enjoyed in Syrian air space for striking hostile elements, primarily Iran and Hizballah.
Netanyahu shot back, according to our sources, that Israel cannot possibly desist from action over Syria, since this would leave Iran at liberty to establish a permanent, hostile military presence in that country. And so, said the prime minister, Israel would have to persevere in its efforts to stop this happening. The conversation between Putin and Netanyahu ended in total discord.
The Kremlin later issued this version: “Upon an initiative of the Israeli side, a telephone conversation took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Syrian issue was discussed, including the recent missile strikes on the T-4 airfield in Homs by the Israeli Air Force. Vladimir Putin stressed the fundamental importance of respecting the sovereignty of Syria and called for refraining from any actions that might further destabilize the situation in the country and pose a threat to its security.” The Moscow readout did not reveal Netanyahu’s reply.